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ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing

Hundreds of armed attackers stormed Tahrir Square in Cairo, trying to drive protesters out, causing mass chaos.

A R A B I C A ارابيكا

By Kristen Gillespie


STORMING FREEDOM SQUARE

*Hundreds of armed attackers stormed Tahrir Square in Cairo, trying to drive protesters out, causing mass chaos. Grainy footage of the attackers is here and here. One commenter summed it up: "reports indicate that those in the square are thugs paid by the state security apparatus."

DIGGING DIRT 1

*The omnipotent state security has good reason to be concerned about the activities of protesters. Thousands of confidential documents taken from buildings around the country have been uploaded and posted online. One example is this internal memo from 2009 detailing the arrest of suspects believed to be involved in extremist Islamist activities. "A group of people was arrested to determine whether they are participating in extremist activities," the memo noted. What state security called "discussions," are suspected of moving along with physical coercion. The letter goes on to list suspects by name – for example, detainee Magdy al-Deeb. Birthday, educational background, place of employment and dates of previous detentions (on the same charges) are included.

DIGGING DIRT 2

*A Yemeni opposition website reports that young people organizing protests in Sana'a have compiled a black list of names of officials accused of acts of murder and incitement against peaceful demonstrators across the country. At the top of the list? Ahmed Saleh, commander of the Republican Guard and brother of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who refuses to step down until his term ends in 2013. The article reports that "the young people vow to hold sit-ins and protest until the regime falls."

EMIRATES FIRST RUMBLING

*A group of 133 activists submitted a petition to the president of the United Arab Emirates asking for free elections and an empowered parliament, the first such stirring of public dissent in the seven emirates. While praising President Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan and the UAE leadership's "perfect harmony" with the people, the petitioners observed that "participation in decision-making is part of the tradition and customs of this country." The signatories noted that "regional and international events requires developing the process of national participation." The UAE has an Abu Dhabi-based advisory body called the Federal National Council. The council's 40 members are selected by the government, half of whom are then voted on by the public. The council itself has no binding legal power.

March 9, 2011

photo credit: illustir

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Geopolitics

What Lula Needs Now To Win: Move To The Center And Mea Culpa

Despite the leftist candidate's first-place finish, the voter mood in Brazil's presidential campaign is clearly conservative. So Lula will have to move clearly to the political center to vanquish the divisive but still popular Jair Bolsonaro. He also needs to send a message of contrition to skeptical voters about past mistakes.

Brazilian votes show a polarized national opinion with two clear winners: former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and sitting president Jair Bolsonaro

Marcelo Cantelmi

-Analysis-

The first round of Brazil's presidential elections closed with two winners, a novelty but not necessarily a political surprise.

Leftist candidate and former president, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, was clearly the winner. His victory came on the back of the successes of his two previous administrations (2003-2011), kept alive today by the harsh reality that large swathes of Brazilians see no real future for themselves.

Lula, the head of the Workers Party or PT, also moved a tad toward the political Center in a bid to seduce middle-class voters, with some success. Another factor in his first-round success was a decisive vote cast against the current government, though this was less considerable than anticipated.

The other big winner of the day was the sitting president, Jair Bolsonaro. For many voters, his defects turn out to be virtues. They were little concerned by his bombastic declarations, his authoritarian bent, contempt for modernity, his retrograde views on gender and his painful management of the pandemic. They do not believe in Lula, and envisage no other alternative.

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